Modular approach in software testing – divide and conquer

Application lifecycle management

9 December 2021 • 18 min read

    Software testing is an invaluable process as it allows for releasing fully functional digital products and prevents any defect-related losses. Some people might say that testing is costly and time-consuming. However, the consequences of improper testing can be catastrophic, so it is generally perceived as an essential phase. The best part is you can make testing quite fast and cheap if you adopt the right approach. In this article, we will look at modular testing as the key to creating and carrying out software tests. Find out how the modular test case design benefits your testing team.

    What is software testing?

    We’ll keep this short just to make sure we’re on the same page. Software testing is a multi-level process carried out to ensure that a specific product is working as intended in every possible way. This process is necessary to ensure that the released product is defect-free and will meet the needs of end-users without compromising their comfort or safety.

    Types of software testing

    Here, we could also mention different types of software testing. We could talk about white box vs. black box testing (where the tester is/isn’t provided with the source code access). Another distinction is functional vs. non-functional testing (where we test aspects more essential to the product’s operation/more essential to the end-user). We can also talk about manual vs. automation testing (where tests are performed by the user/by the software). And all these terms are just the start.

    Test scenarios vs. test cases vs. test steps

    Since we are comparing software testing terms, we need to discuss the difference between test cases and test scenarios. A test scenario is a specific software functionality that we’re going to test. When talking about a test case in software testing, we mean all the activities that we perform to check how a particular software functionality works. One more important term is a test step – a single activity aimed at achieving the desired result. Normally test cases are composed of many test steps. Managing these test steps can be quite hard, especially in terms of complex applications. Luckily, you can do this in a simple and cost-efficient way using the modular approach. What is it?

    The modular approach

    When we want to make the testing team’s jobs easier, it’s hard not to discuss the modular test case design. This fairly new approach is the pinnacle of increasing the speed and effectiveness of writing test cases through compartmentalization and reusability. The question is: what is modular test case design and how can it benefit the software testing life cycle?

    What is the modular approach?

    Let’s start with the modular testing definition. The modular approach assumes that test cases can be broken into small and independent parts called modules. These parts can be reused to form new test cases or even test scenarios. When a tester understands the logic behind the entire test procedure, applying test modularization and using the modules as building blocks of test cases becomes easy. The right test management software with an in-built modular testing framework allows you to apply the modular approach to quickly build new test cases. Sounds good? Let’s go deeper into the advantages of modularization in software testing.

    The advantages of modularization

    1. Easy step building

    The aforesaid modules are independent units. They can be added or removed within a particular test case without the need for writing them from scratch. As a result, you don’t need to create or copy a test instruction as everything will be covered within a given module. This allows the tester to save time and energy for other less repetitive activities and creative thinking.

    The matter goes even deeper when we think of writing test cases in general. The most valuable test cases are those with the highest degree of reusability and granularity. The more practical modules you have, the easier it will be to build test cases in the future. Reusability in software testing becomes particularly beneficial when dealing with common functions such as Login/Logout, Register, Create Records/Data, Search, Help, or Confirmation. If you have a rich collection of such modules, you can create specific test steps very quickly with modularity-driven testing!

    Building new test cases in Requirements & Test Management for Jira

    2. Improved test management

    The beauty of using the modular test case design is that your test cases are easier to compartmentalize. Large, bulky test cases are difficult to control and interpret while the costs of test case maintenance are higher. But with modular testing, test cases are divided into smaller, bite-sized units which are understandable and perfectly manageable.

    Another perk of modularity-driven testing is that all test cases are immediately editable. If you introduce any changes to a particular test case, they will also apply to other test cases with a given module. As a result, you don’t need to constantly track changes. With modular testing, you will easily find the fragments that need editing.

    3. Intuitive step navigation

    Modular test case design makes navigating around test cases intuitive through consistency – you use the same testing methods for all areas of the test case. What is more, these methods are scalable from a single place. By such means, you can greatly shorten step management time as you will always be able to introduce changes in the same way.

    There is one more navigational advantage to modular testing – easy defect spotting. The structure of modules greatly facilitates finding bugs in smaller code chunks. This translates into less time and frustration on the testers’ side.

    4. Higher test quality

    Thanks to applying modular testing, you can greatly enhance the quality of your tests. Firstly, you can manage scripts from one place, thus saving a lot of time. As a result, you can run your tests faster and then focus on other tests. Secondly, if you apply one imported script, you can immediately eliminate any duplicates from the test script. You don’t need to manually browse through the test anymore.

    Higher test granularity due to modularity is another factor that improves the quality of your tests. Working with individual chunks of code gives you a better insight into the test structure. When you have a better perspective, it’s much easier to cover the test requirements. But the real icing on the cake here is test automation. You can easily create automated test cases for future use with the right modules in place. That way, once you have completed your initial tasks, you can benefit from faster testing further on.

    Linking steps for better navigation in Requirements & Test Management for Jira

    The disadvantages of modularization

    1. Library building

    So far, we’ve discussed the advantages of modularization in software testing. However, the use of the modular test case design has its price. There are two major disadvantages of modularization – test case library building and test module database building. Firstly, you need more time to design and develop your test case library. Since you aim to establish module reusability, creating modules requires extra effort and time spent in the modular testing framework in the initial stage. Nonetheless, a correctly made test case library will help you save a lot of time in the future.

    2. Limited view

    Secondly, you need a very detailed understanding of the product to identify repetitive actions and divide them into modules. Only then you will be able to develop a proper modular testing database. Unfortunately, some products can be highly complicated, and you don’t get the bird’s-eye view as you are working on your separate part. So, if you want to enjoy the advantages of modularization, you ought to invest your time and energy in constructing the modules first.

    Divide and conquer

    As you can see, the modular approach gives you greater control over your test steps thanks to changing them into manageable chunks. Every portion of your step, if well-thought, can be reused while composing some test cases can become a matter of minutes. Adjusting your software testing process to the modular test case design can be a quite demanding task. But once you develop a habit of working with your modular testing framework, you will receive a reusable library which might tremendously lower your workload and costs. So, paraphrasing ancient Romans, divide your test steps, with modularity-driven testing, conquer your project and enjoy a fully released and bug-free product.

    If you want to take advantage of the modular approach in software testing, you can learn more about Requirements & Test Management for Jira – our Jira add-on designed for modular testing. You can also try it out for free on the – it’s available on the Atlassian Marketplace. Our Jira add-on also has many handy test management features that we’ll disclose in our next article. In the meantime, you can find out more about test management from our other works:

    1. How to present test case execution progress in Jira
    2. Mobile app testing – how to start
    3. Test Management in Jira 101: the basics
    [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]